28 October 2007

Shirlington Dog Factory

This amounts to a sequel of my recent report on the DC dog park situation. Several people had suggested Shirlington Park as an alternative to Wheaton... In fact, we were pummeled with enthusiastic Shirlingtonian propoganda. It sounded like there was a mad hoarde of dog owners out there, who believed this Shirlington place was the BEE'S FREAKIN' KNEES, and we'd be idiots to report on the scene without visiting that place.

And so we did. Even though it's on THAT side of the river.

We just had a solid week of rain, and poor Gomez was completely insane with cabin fever. He hadn't had a decent walk in ages. So the plan was to let him explode at this Shirlington place, and then settle back at home while he died on the floor in a puddle of exhaustion. Maybe we'd finally watch that Netflix copy of The Usual Suspects.

[No spoilers in the comments, please. Marian hasn't seen it yet. Not as of this writing, anyway.]

The park is a huge stretch of fenced property behind South Four Mile Run between Shirlington Road and South Walter Reed Drive. For us, it's a simple hop down North Capitol Street to NY Ave and 395, off at the Shirlington exit, and we're practically there. It runs along a shallow stretch of water, which is fenced off, so the humans have some control over whether the dogs have access to the water.

Gomez leaped and porpoised in the water like the wicked banshee monkey-faced cocaine-riddled freak-puppet he really is, and made some new friends in the process.

But here again, the real Dog Park Experience has as much to do with the humans as the facility itself. The place is so incredibly spread out, some folks simply trust their dogs to behave, whilst they sit on benches and read books or flirt with each other. For the most part it works fine, but the occasional aggressive dog can ruin the party for everybody, while the owner is off somewhere...

So the final grade for this place is very favorable, but peppered with caveats... The facilities are amazing, with ample room for billions of dogs. The steep embankment on the other side of the stream is not fenced, and one couple told us they DID witness a dog scale that side and vanish. But it would take a very determined, obsessive, neurotic dog to do that; I'd call it a minimal risk. Poo-bags are provided, as are sturdy benches and a few picnic tables. The place is well-shaded, and people clearly know about the park: We arrived at 11am this morning (Sunday) and the place was hopping with activity.

But for overall nice-nice vibes, the winner is still Wheaton Regional Park. It's hard to describe, and granted, this was our first visit to Shirlington. But the typical, random gathering of dog owners at Wheaton tends to be more open and conversational than the crowd we experienced at Shirlington. And that's an important dynamic to have in a dog park when, uh, excuse me, your black lab is mauling my little japanese pipsqueak, could you remove it please, before I kick it's miserable face in? Thank you, lovely...

But no matter! Gomez dug it like a superstar, and he crashed immediately upon getting home, as planned.

I figure that's the prime motive for doing the Dog Park thing. It's all a conspiracy to wear the suckers out. And on that score, Shirlington wins by a drippy nose.

1 comment:

Reya Mellicker said...

Gomez looks so happy and relieved. A good run is good for everyone.

Did you see the story in the Washington Post about dog parks? I think it appeared on Friday. You scooped 'em, as it were.